Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law
Men pray on the street before the start of the American Muslim Day Parade last year in New York.
March 6th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law

Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door," airs March 27 at 8 p.m. ET.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has been the epicenter of a months-long battle over the construction of a new mosque in the Nashville suburb. It's one example of many concerning Muslims in America, and how cities and communities are responding to efforts to build Islamic places of worship.

That battle got fiercer when two state lawmakers, one representing Murfreesboro, introduced legislation that would make it a felony to practice Sharia law, which includes lessons found in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and which can inform how Muslims live their everyday lives, including prayer rituals. Many Muslims consider Sharia law to outline basic tenets of living a moral life. What is Sharia law?

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, who are backing the same bill in the Senate and House, describe Sharia law as dangerous to U.S. national security, according to the Tennessean newspaper. The bill grants Tennessee's attorney general the power to investigate complaints about anyone who might be practicing Sharia law.

The possible punishment for practicing Sharia law is 15 years behind bars.

Last year, construction equipment on the site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro was torched, and police suspect arson. Signs on the mosque property were vandalized with spray paint reading, "Not welcome." Two other proposed Islamic centers in Tennessee stoked much controversy last year.  A Crusaders' cross was spray-painted on the side of a Nashville mosque, next to the words, "Muslims go home." In Williamson County, not far from Murfreesboro, plans to build a mosque were quashed after residents complained a turn lane into the building would be too costly. The debate over a mosque near ground zero in New York is still raging. The U.S. Justice Department supports the Murfreesboro mosque.

Tennessee isn't the first state to consider anti-Sharia law legislation. Oklahoma passed a similar bill last year. This month Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley said he would support a bill that "maintains that U.S. law shall take precedence in U.S. courts," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tilley referenced a case, frequently cited in the debate concerning the Oklahoma law, in which a New Jersey judge relied on Islamic law to rule in a case involving domestic violence.

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Filed under: Missouri • Oklahoma • Politics • St. Louis • Tennessee • U.S.
soundoff (972 Responses)
  1. Robert

    Muslims view Americans as the enemy. Plain and simple. Until we realize this, we are sitting ducks. Not all Muslims should be viewed by Americans as the enemy, but some certainly are. As long as Muslim groups continue to terrorize Americans, they should not receive the same treatment as peaceful religious groups.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. wowlfie

    Sharia Law = Slavery for women.

    'basic tenets of living a moral life' I guess they consider murder and suicide bombings their moral rights.


    March 9, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. Howard

    Neither the U.S. nor the states can pass laws that infringe on religious laws that are stricter than secular laws, so long as the religious laws do not sanction actions (murder) that are forbidden by secular laws.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Adam

    You know what angers me the most? These people come to our countries (US and in my case Canada) and immediately try to change our ways of life. These people left their mudhuts for a reason, to have a better life. So why try to bring archaic and evil ways such as Islam and Sharia? All I have to say to them is "IF YOU DON'T LIKE AMERICA (or Canada), THEN YOU CAN JUST GET OUT!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chiniquy

      A third of the slaves that were kidnapped from Africa and brought to the Americas were Muslims.

      That didn't seem to bother your ancestors or most of you today with diseased souls because the USA became wealthy from their labour.

      Muslims have been here before and after the establishment of the USA.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. AceRyder

    So Calvin, should any group just set up it's own set of laws under which people can be tried and onvicted? This is the US, we have laws. Should the laws of Austria be valid here as well? How about Cuban laws and ban public dissent of government.

    Think through what you are saying.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AceRyder

    So Trucker – should we just have parallel legal systems for everyone? Try convicts under Swedish law, perverts under Mexico's law, allow child marriages like in Afghanistan, cane people for spitting gum on the ground like in Indonesia? Cut of hands for stealing? Lock up political dissidents like LIbya?

    We live in the US, where US law is enforced. You can have moral religious rules, but not a seperate legal system that allows stonings. That makes no sense whatsoever.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Whole Earth

    This bill is a good idea. I am sure that after a NASCAR race, many Tennesseans would love to go to a stoning!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    150 years ago, in our country, there were millions of Christians in this country who sincerely believed it was okay to own other human beings, because their Christian preachers told them the Bible permitted it, even required it. They also believed it was all right to kill Americans who opposed this. They were so sure God was on their side that their motto was "Deo Vindice." 600,000 people died in this war–more than 200 times as many as on 9/11. They lost their war against America, but instead of repenting, they insisted the war never had anything to do with slavery–although strangely, they then passed laws reducing their former slaves to dhimmi status, even though they worshipped the same God as them. Today their leaders and holy warriors are still honored by statues and holidays, as respected martyrs who were only trying to throw the invaders out of their occupied territories.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    Your mastery of the caps lock key just adds even more credibility to your viewpoint – well done!

    March 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Logic

    How do you ban Sharia???

    March 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Helene Volat

    There is no sharia law in this country. This piece of disinformation is spread by those who want to persecute Muslims in this country. The infamous Peter King is one of those. For one thing, Muslims in this country have been the first to report extremists to the authority (ex. the father of the guy who wanted to blow up a truck in Manhattan). Are we going to go after the Irish because they might have ties with the IRA???

    March 9, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sara

    This is ridiculous. Muslims get their daily guidelines on how to practice their religion from Sharia law. Outlawing that would, in many ways, be equivalent to outlawing the religion entirely. In fact, that's the only context in which I've seen Sharia law applied in the U.S.: in legal ways, to practice daily religion. No one is trying to pass Sharia law or make it something that every citizen has to follow. No one is trying to repress with it. However, taking away the ability to follow a certain moral code, if you so choose, would be repressive.
    And to those who reference wife beating, it has nothing to do with Sharia law. THAT crosses all cultures, religions, borders, etc.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Calimafia

    The real question is what would Charlie Sheen do here

    March 9, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anonymous

    To all of you who posted ignorant and unenlightened comments, you have no idea what you are talking about. Muslim Americans are not a threat to America, plotting against the American way of life. Shari'ah law is a topic of importance to Muslims, law derived from the Koran and the example of the Prophet Muhammad. To most Muslim Americans, shari'ah law influences their daily routines regarding prayer and matters of worship. The claims that Muslim Americans are fiercely trying to implement shari'ah law in America are entirely unfounded and ludicrous. Get your facts straight.

    March 10, 2011 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Erik

    Once again, blatant bigotry.

    All of you saying Islam is evil, please, shut up. I've grew up, raised, and read about all other religions as well. Islam teaches nothing but good things, and most of the "bad" to you can be avoided.

    Be a Muslim for 15 years and then tell me something.

    March 13, 2011 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
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